If there is one state in the United States of America that exemplifies the concept of relaxation, it has to be Hawaii. The famous tropical island state actually encompasses a multitude of islands (137 total!) and the state gets its name from one of these islands, also called The Big Island. Hawaii has historically been a very popular cruise destination, not just for the sunshine and sights to enjoy, but because it offers something unique you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in America: island hopping!
Island hopping cruise in Hawaii
There are many organisations that offer cruises to and from Hawaii. And while they all offer wonderful experiences and a great way to relax, not all of them allow you to visit multiple islands, generally focusing on one or two. To go island hopping, what you’re looking for is a multi-day cruise which docks at multiple Hawaiian ports. A popular choice for tourists is the Norwegian Cruise Line, precisely because it offers just that. Rather than stick to any particular island, they dock at multiple islands, allowing you to experience what makes each Hawaiian port city unique. Another option is UnCruise Adventures, which offers similar extended cruises. You want to plan at least a 14-day cruise to have enough time to really experience each island. If you’ve planned ahead properly, you might get away with a 8 to 10 day cruise, though you might find yourself short on time.
137 islands?! Which do I choose?
Hawaii’s 137 islands encompass all islands, including the ones that are uninhabited. Only seven of the islands are inhabited, and most people live on the four biggest ones: Hawaii, Oahu, Maui and Kauai. Unsurprisingly, these are also the most popular ones. Each island offers something unique, from Kauai’s spectacular natural sights to Hawaii’s green sand beach. You can easily spend entire holidays on a single island. Maybe you’d like to visit Pearl Harbor in Oahu? If you like to go diving, Maui’s is the place to be as you can go snorkelling at Black Rock. Just make sure you read up on what each island has to offer. Tourists often find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer amount of sights and activities, and you have to remember that the cruise won’t wait for you when the time to disembark comes.
Going on a cruise to Hawaii? You need an ESTA
Most people travelling to America by plane know you need an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) travel permit to board the plane. However, the same applies to arrivals by sea. Whether you arrive by plane or by boat, an ESTA is mandatory to travel to the United States. Thankfully, the process of getting an ESTA is very short and straightforward. You fill in the online ESTA form, make the payment and wait for it to be approved. An ESTA is not a physical document, so you don’t need to print it (in fact, you can’t). Once the ESTA is approved, it’s digitally linked to your passport. So all you need to do to board the plane or cruise is to present your passport.
When do I need a visa?
Travel visas are also a frequently used tool to travel to America. This is because the ESTA is not available to everyone. There are a number of things that can disqualify you from applying for an ESTA, such as criminal history or having the wrong nationality. The ESTA form checks for this by asking a number of safety questions. In general, if you’re from the United Kingdom and you don’t fail any of the safety questions, you can apply for an ESTA, and you should because it’s cheaper and easier to get compared to the visa. If, however, you can’t apply for an ESTA for whatever reason, you can still always go to your local US embassy to go through the standard visa procedure. This is more expensive and can take weeks to months to complete. Submit your visa application in advance to avoid not being able to go on your trip